Fail, Survive, or Thrive

November 23, 2022 @ 12:00am

As leaders, we are busy all of the time. There is always something going on and work to be done. If there isn’t we are not growing and thriving. However, that busyness often flows outside of the walls we normally work in, following us wherever we go. Now, some that are closest to me will laugh when they read this but finding balance between work and life is essential to maintaining yourself. I for one, have not quite found that balance and often find myself working and putting in time when I should not. But Healthfirst is thriving, and I cannot lose that momentum.

November 21, 2022 @ 12:00am

Good snowy morning from northern Wisconsin. The snow and slick roads this morning reminded me about one of the least favorite parts of my job-playing meteorologist. Now this is quite contradictory to my childhood years. I used to love watching the weather report by meteorologist Gary Cannalte out of the News 3 station in Madison. I was fascinated and intrigued and thought that someday I want to be a meteorologist too. So here I am, playing meteorologist-without any training. It is one of the most stressful things!

November 18, 2022 @ 12:00am

So, there is this amazing group out of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, UW CORE-Collaborative for Reproductive Equity. They conduct some very important research regarding reproductive health, and value reproductive autonomy, dignity, and equity. With that being said, I always look forward to reading their updates and current research.

Their latest update came out on Monday, and I was in such shock and awe, that I have had to spend several days processing. Several of the researchers from CORE published a study on September 28th in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology titled, Physician Beliefs about Contraceptive Methods as Abortifacients. Here is the link for those who are interested

November 14, 2022 @ 12:00am

Election day came and went last week. But what do the results really mean? Let’s first take a look at things on a more national level. Five states: California, Michigan, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont, had abortion rights and access on the ballot. Constituents in all five states, overwhelmingly, supported the right to choose. California voters enshrined abortion rights in their state constitution. Kentucky voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment that would have removed the right to abortion from the state’s constitution. Michigan voters adopted an amendment to their state constitution ensuring the right to abortion access. Montana voters rejected a legislative referendum that would have raised criminal charges for health care providers in regard to abortion. And in Vermont, with a 77.2% vote, voters added abortion rights to the state constitution. But let’s not forget about Kansas in August either.

November 11, 2022 @ 12:00am

Mission drift is a thing. A very real thing for non-profit organizations. Why? Because we want to save the world. It is in our blood to do the most good for the most people. So, when opportunity presents itself, we often jump asking and figuring out how we can fill the gap. However, an important lesson for all of us is the one that teaches us to stay in our lane.

November 07, 2022 @ 12:00am

Protestors or prayer walkers? Who are they and more importantly, why are they here…outside of my clinics? Frequently there are groups of people with anti-abortion signs and the rosary walking up and down the sidewalks near Healthfirst locations. When I started, I did not know what to say or do. Do I just let them be? Do I engage in conversation?

November 04, 2022 @ 12:00am

I am finally sitting in that cozy chair in the corner of my office as I write this. There is a small table next to it, that I pulled in front of me to create a workspace. After a busy day of pulling month-end reports, it was time for a change of scenery today.

For those of you who follow us on social media, you may recall that Healthfirst recently had a can sculpture contest. Historically, we have participated in United WeCan with the Marathon County United Way. Some of their strategies have changed, and they transitioned away from the event. However, we had the money budgeted to participate. So after some thought, we decided to bring it in house.

October 31, 2022 @ 12:00am

Wisconsin continues to be in the spotlight for so many things, most importantly though, the upcoming election. Many have even said that the Senate race in Wisconsin is the most important in the country. But there are also 12 state legislative races that could result in a Republican supermajority, as well as the gubernatorial race. Now I am not going to sit here and say go vote for this person and do not vote for that person. I truly want to encourage everyone to research the candidates they are voting for. And then make a plan to vote.

October 24, 2022 @ 12:00am

Transparency builds trust, let us say that again, but altogether, transparency builds trust. Effective leaders are transparent both inwards and outwards. That builds a culture of trust within the organization, but also builds community trust outside of the organization.

October 21, 2022 @ 12:00am

Dobbs, Roe, post, pre, EC, plan b, morning after….I feel like I frequently talk in code-which I apologize for. So, let’s start with some of the basics. In June of 2022, June 24th to be exact, the United States Supreme Court issued their opinion on a specific case they heard, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Everything since that date has been termed Post Dobbs in the reproductive health world.

About the Author


Jessie Scharfenberg

Jessica Scharfenberg is a nurse by trade but leader by nature. After completing her BSN at Edgewood College, she moved to rural South Dakota, working as a nurse at a critical access hospital near two Native American reservations. This is where her passion for public health and prevention blossomed. After seeing the same patients, week after week being met with severe inequities, she transitioned into public health nursing, working as a public health regional manager for the South Dakota Department of Health. In that time, she earned her Masters of Public Health with an emphasis in policy and administration from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska.

In the spring of 2016, she moved back home to Wisconsin to assume the role of CEO at Healthfirst Network; a non-profit reproductive health and WIC clinic serving nine counties in central Wisconsin. The transition has allowed her to focus on her true passions: reproductive health and maternal and child health. Jessica is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Business Administration, specializing in leadership.